You know what I'm craving? A little perspective. That's it. I'd like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that? --Ratatouille (Pixar, 2007)

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Plethora of Polenta

Over the recent winter holidays, I was a part of many "secret santa" celebrations in school. Being the lazy, not creative bum that I am, I baked here and there for my recipients. However, much more interesting were the gifts I received. In one secret santa party, I got a cookbook! My classmates know me too well...
While peeling through the book, entitled, "500 Main Courses," I found a recipe for something I always wanted to experiment with--Polenta. An old Italian peasant's dish, Polenta is a cornmeal driven side dish that can be served in a mashed potato like state, or cooled, cut, and fried. When deciding to make it--the choice was clear.
I mean really, who would opt to NOT fry?
Anyway, The recipe is simple (because beyond growing your own corn, what are you going to do?), and is as follows.

2 and 1/4 Cups Polenta
1/4 Cup Butter
4 Cups Water
A pinch (ish) of Salt

Line an 11x7 Baking Tin with parchment paper.
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, and add a pinch or so of salt. When it boils, turn the heat down to about 1/3 power, pour in the polenta, and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Spoon all the polenta into the parchment lined tin and put it in the fridge to cool. Like below!

Once it's cool, pull the dish out and turn the polenta out of the parchment and dish and onto a cutting board like below.
You'll want to cut off any awkward ends made by the dish, and then cut your polenta into strips. If there's any advice I can give you after my first trial, it's that polenta isn't good thick. You won't cook it correctly in very tall pieces, so try to cut your pieces of polenta as thin as possible. If they get too thick it'll be an unpleasant eat, as your teeth will be fully submerged in weird, dense cornmeal. Cut them even thinner than mine are shown whilst frying below:

The last piece of advice I can give you, is that you'll never over-season or over dress your polenta. The extent of my seasoning was to throw spices on the polenta while it was frying. If that is what you do, just be heavy. Cake the spices on.
Because polenta tastes like nothing. It was known as the beggar's side dish because it consists of nothing. There are no high priced ingredients inside, it requires no "black truffle oil," or "chipotles and adobo!" It's just polenta.

Thus, the last ingredient yet to be used in my list is *FUN*. This fun is to be used now! Once your polenta is fried, put something on it! Many people like to put tomato sauce and cheese on their polenta. Others (like myself) like a good batch of fried onions and mushrooms on theirs. It doesn't matter what it is, my friends, just please--put SOMETHING on your polenta.

Credits to 500 Main Courses a compilation by Jenni Fleetwood.

1 comment:

  1. as usual... very nice pictures. good post. the polenta was tasty; i don't know how much FUN